Have a more innovative year – 10 tips for creativity in 2017

Habit #1 Write your ideas down

We have hundreds of ideas every day, but we tend to fail to seize them and act on them, often because we can’t remember them. Many successful creatives swear by keeping a notebook, journal or sketchpad to capture their thoughts.

Habit #2 Focus on quantity not quality

The more ideas we have the more likely it is that some of them will be good ones. Rather than struggle to write down one good or “right” idea, suspend your judgement, write down 100 ideas and then pick the good stuff from the silly stuff.

“It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong than to always be right by having no ideas at all.”
Edward de Bono – author of ‘six thinking hats’

Habit #3 Kick ideas around with other people

Ideas get better with more inputs. They pivot, evolve, and improve. Even the act of explaining an idea to someone else helps you develop and articulate that idea better. New perspectives also help explore and champion ideas.

“You won’t get far by cloistering yourself away from the world and waiting for inspiration to hit you. Chance favours the connected mind.”
Stephen Johnson – author of ‘where good ideas come from’

Habit #4 Think of ideas as stepping-stones

The right answer is rarely obvious (or we’d already have it) – but silly ideas and random concepts can provide access to hard-to-reach innovations. Most people think of the same answers to a question – so you have to contemplate the ridiculous to even discover an original idea. Those silly ideas and wild flights of fancy might lead you to somewhere more interesting.

Habit #5 Use metaphors to open up creativity

This blog is like my garden – I plant my ideas in ink and watch them grow.

This blog is like a laboratory – I set out my ideas and subject them to tests and experiments until I prove, disprove, discover further ideas, or develop them in new ways.

Metaphors, illustrations, and diagrams can all help us get perspective on an issue; however ridiculous the attempts to crowbar an idea into a metaphorical example are there is always some insight available.

Habit #6 Ask better questions

The phrasing of the question you ask affects the answer: Asking “What is a shoebox for?” gets different results to asking “What could you use a shoebox for?” and better still would be “What are 100 ways of using a shoebox?”. Similarly asking “How do we build a better mousetrap?” is different to asking “How do we catch the mice?” to which the answer may be “Buy a cat.”

Habit #7 Change your habits

If you always do the same things in the same places with the same people – where on earth will new ideas come from? Our brains need diverse diets to create diverse ideas.

“We cannot solve our problems using the same thinking we used when we created them.”
Albert Einstein – Physicist

Habit #8 Be ready for the fact that people often fear new ideas – however good they are.

Ultimately many of us like to be comfortable; upheavals to our models of how we work now and in the future can frighten us from taking up new ideas. Inertia is a difficult thing to move. Equally, sometimes we haven’t thought through the implications of change, not all disruptive innovation is good.

“The man with a new idea is a crank – until the idea succeeds.”
Mark Twain – Author

Habit #9 Share your ideas with others and encourage them to buy into it and contribute to it.

Leading change is easier when people think the idea is theirs too. Put yourself in their shoes and try to understand why they would benefit (or not) from the idea.

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because they want to do it”
Dwight Eisenhower – 34th US President

Habit #10 Practice your creativity

The more you do it, the better you get, and the better you get the more you’ll do it. Building up creative confidence and fluency is ultimately the result of regular graft.

“The more I practice the luckier I get!”
Gary Player – Golfer

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